Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Preview and Pick

Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, November 11th, 2007
by The Crazy Snake of

Cleveland has continually given up starts to lesser teams this season and rallied to win. If they give up a start to Pittsburgh at Heinz Field one seriously doubts their ability to come back. It’s not because they aren’t a good team. On the contrary, they are probably the surprise packet of the entire league to this point.

Many pundits will be using this game as a barometer to exactly how far the Browns have come since opening day, when they were humiliated 34-7 in front of their home fans by the team they will meet in this critical AFC North divisional match up. With Pittsburgh at 6-2 and Cleveland at 5-3 this is another week 10 fixture that almost counts for double, such is its relative importance in the whole texture of the division.

Should the Steelers win here it would put them 2 games clear and with two season victories over the Browns and already one win over the 3rd placed Ravens they would be in a dominant position to win the divisional title. However, should the Browns win it would lock up the division and bring the Ravens back into contention only a game and a half back.

The Steelers will almost certainly look to establish their clock controlling run dominance and stifle the Cleveland attack on the counter. An early lead to the Steelers would be a disaster for the Browns because it would play right into Pittsburgh’s strength and allow them to dictate terms.

The Browns will need to establish an early lead if they are to have a realistic chance here. They need to force the Steelers out of their comfort zone and make them play catch up. If they allow the Steelers to play their dominant style, as they did in week 1 there could be a repeat performance in the offing.

The key to this game will be the dominance or otherwise of the Pittsburgh offensive line and the rushing of Willie Parker. He is the key to any likely Pittsburgh supremacy. Cleveland will try to curtail his influence and pressure Ben Roethlisberger via their attempts to get Pittsburgh to abandon their running game. This can only happen if Cleveland establishes a lead, something which they haven’t really been accustomed to doing in recent times.

Given that statistically Cleveland is currently the league’s worst defense, that is extremely unlikely to occur. Pittsburgh will think it’s Christmas against this defensive unit compared to the highly rated one they faced last week.

Pittsburgh looks likely to be all over this defense and I see them scoring a big number. If they can light up the league’s best D in the pouring rain, what can they do to the worst in the dry? Benny might have himself another 5 TD’s if things turn his way.

Pittsburgh has dominated this series in recent times and have won 13 of the last 14. There is a good reason the bookies have the spread set at -10 in favor of the home team. Everyone expects Cleveland to show their true colors at some point.

The Snake’s Bite: Credit to Cleveland to this point in the season for surprising many of us with their performances, but will the real Cleveland please stand up! Back the Steelers to cover a big number for the second straight week.

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